A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Lord, don’t allow me to die on the vine of indifference.
Read REVELATION 3:1–13
To the Church in Sardis
3 “To the angel[a] of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits[b] of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. 6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To the Church in Philadelphia
7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
a Revelation 3:1 Or messenger; also in verses 7 and 14
b Revelation 3:1 That is, the sevenfold Spirit
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Lord, open my heart today to Your direction on my life and give me the joy, excitement, danger and fulfillment of walking in Your will, whatever You ask of me.
Sardis was basking in its former glory, sitting in an area known for its textiles and materials. The city which had once thrived echoes its church’s state. Sardis stands as a stark warning to so many who have seen days of great revival and then stopped seeking, assuming that they had arrived. Jesus makes it clear that nothing is finished: “… you are dead. Wake up!” (1,2); if you don’t, “I will come like a thief” (3; cf. 1 Thess. 5:2).
In most churches there is often an unsoiled remnant (4)—and this is what we read of in Philadelphia: I know your deeds, I know that you have a little strength, yet you belong to me. Because you have endured with patience, I will protect you; more than that, I am coming soon and will give you your crown. Both churches could give up, or they could wake up and do the task to which God called them. Philadelphia has opportunity, depicted by an open door; Sardis has opportunity if it will stand and simply do God’s will. Both have the promise of eternal victory, to be a part of God’s living temple, his people, forever engraved on his heart.
What a challenge to us as churches, as individuals! When was the last time you heard from Jesus? What have you done about it? What was the task, the calling he laid before us? Is it completed? Are we feeling weak, or are we resting on our reputation? Only God knows what lies before us. Only listening and following God’s will is going to make a church successful. As disciples and churches, perhaps it’s time to ask God for a fresh vision—what does he require of us? “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (13).
Pray for wisdom for our church leadership and for the church’s vision. Pray that God will open all of our hearts to hear, act and be an encouragement to the church.
Lord, keep Your Word burning within me. Keep the fire going so that I am motivated to reach out and continue to push Your kingdom forward.